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Before DRC, UN Ladsous' Selex Falco Drone Crashed in Wales & Pakistan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 15 -- With news that a Selex ES Falco drone procured by UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous has crashed, we turn back the clock for a moment.

  On August 5, 2013, Inner City Press reported that the Selex ES Falco had a history of crashes, from Pakistan to Wales and asked, how then was it selected? There was little transparency -- Ladsous has a "policy" of not answering Press questions; peacekeeping procurement, particularly but not only threw "Letters of Assist" such as those France got, is opaque.

  In Pakistan last year: "an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) crashed near PAF Mureed base during a test-flight mission due to a reported technical fault, some kilometres away from the district Mianwali in Punjab... The crashed UAV was identified as SG Falco-I (Selex), a sophisticated PAF surveillance drone equipped with the latest stealth and surveillance features."

  Before that in Wales: "a drone spy plane has crashed just weeks after an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle test centre was launched in West Wales. The crash, involving a Selex Falco unmanned plane, has raised fears about the safety of testing unmanned aircraft in the skies over Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.The crash happened at the Parc Aberporth UAV centre near West Wales Airport in Ceredigion, where new craft being tested include drone planes capable of delivering missiles."

  So how was the Selex ES Falco chosen? On July 31, with the UN then as now allowing its Herve Ladsous to conceal which units of the Congolese Army he is aiding, on July 31, Inner City Press asked the UN who won its contract for drones:

Inner City Press: Ladsous announced during the Bastille Day in France that the drone contract had been signed. Iíve checked various databases that are publicly available. Whatís the company that won? And if itís not yet public, how could the UN be signing a contract declaring a winner and not have it be public? Is it public and what is the name of the company?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: I will check. I donít believe it is public...Yes, Evelyn?

Question: Just to be certain the drones that are being used are for observation

  This last is a point Ladsous drone-like makes: he, his mission and the drones are not offensive. To not parrot that, according to Ladsous, is "innuendo," a basis to explicitly refuse to answer Inner City Press' questions. Video compilation here.

  The Office of the Spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon provides answers between noon briefing to some media, notably Reuters as well as Ladsous' favorite, Agence France Presse (Ladsous served on one of AFP's management boards.)

But on this who won the drone contract question, neither Nesirky nor his office got back to Inner City Press. Twenty four hours later at the August 1 noon briefing, Nesirky read out this answer:

I was asked [and] the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations can confirm that it has reached the final stage of the procurement process in relation to the trial use of unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, by its Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The selected vendor is the Italian company SELEX ES. The UAV is known as the ďFALCOĒ and is designed to be a medium-altitude, medium-endurance surveillance platform capable of carrying a range of payloads, including several types of high-resolution sensors. Of course, its payload does not include weapons.

  When Spokesperson Nesirky was further elaborating that final point of Ladsous', and Inner City Press asked to follow up, Nesirky refused. He had given others two rounds of questions, but refused to Inner City Press.

  Now these question must be answered, particularly given the history of crashes by the Selex Falco documented and raised (including h/t by a source the UN's former Group of Experts chief Steve Hege tried to intimidate by listing in his last report): how was the Selex Falco selected? How many other companies bid?

  How much is the UN spending? Who would run the drones? Who would get the information? Watch this site.


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